What to Think About Before Taking on Your Child's Youth Sports Team Coaching Role - by Sarah Daren

From the Coach’s Clipboard Basketball Playbook
"Helping coaches coach better..."

Sarah Daren is a featured writer on the Today Show website and has been a consultant for organizations across a number of industries including athletics, health and wellness, technology and education. When she's not caring for her children or watching the New York Yankees play, Sarah enjoys practicing yoga and reading a good book on the beach.

Sarah Daren
Sarah Daren

Many parents look for ways to creatively engage with their children to build deeper connections. While there are plenty of ways to do this- like movie nights, helping with homework, outdoor retreats, or shopping together- one way that parents may forget about is by coaching their child's sports team.

Sports are a great way in general to foster a myriad of skills, socially, emotionally, and kinesthetically and nurturing leadership development. They are also a wonderful opportunity by which to spend time with other people in a safe, fun, and engaging way that can take the pressure out of not knowing how to relate to a child.

Being that there are so many different sports, it can be easy to locate a game type that resonates with both parent and child. Making that choice is only one of the first steps to connecting with children. Though sharing a coaching role may sound like a simple enough undertaking at the outset, there are actually plenty of layers and complexities that can make such a role a bit more of a chore than some people may realize.

So, for any parents considering becoming a youth sports coach, here are a few things to consider carefully before taking on the responsibility of coaching your child's youth sports team.

Understanding Time Commitments

The time commitment and various responsibilities that are required of coaches may sound simple but can actually become quite consuming.

Coaching, depending on the level and age of sports, can take on a broad range of time commitments. While some parents simply think it's cute and productive to see their children playing sports, other adults take a much more serious position. The level of competitiveness and demand on the child typically originates from the parents and thus from the coaches.

Whether the expectations of bringing home a state championship come from the parents' hopes or the coaches should not matter. What does matter is becoming clear about what level of commitment your child is interested in. This will determine the time commitment which can range as much as just a few hours a week setting up and supervising practices and games, to becoming a near part time job with select, traveling teams.

youth basketball coach

Child vs. Parent Expectations

When young enough, it is rare to expect any child to be in training to become the next Olympian or major league athlete. Despite this, a few years in and parents' expectations can end up changing the tone from what was once a "fun bonding experience" to putting every free hour into training. If the child and parents are not on the same page about this- usually something that the parents are guilty of- sports can be a point of stress and constant contention that can contribute to a child's mental health.

For those homes with a child and coach/parent relationship, there are many more fragile emotional layers. Being consistent about checking in with children and letting them dictate the level of interest each year is a safer way to go than becoming, "that parent".

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Articles by Sarah Daren